November 8, 2008 / 7:37 PM / 9 years ago

Kidnapped Canadian journalist free in Afghanistan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Mellissa Fung, a journalist working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp in Afghanistan, was freed on Saturday after being kidnapped a month ago near the capital, Kabul, her employer said.

The CBC said Fung was safe in the Canadian Embassy and undergoing a medical checkup after being released to Canadian forces.

Fung was abducted by armed men at a U.N. refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul on October 12 and taken to the mountains west of the city, the network said in a statement.

Afghanistan -- one of the most dangerous nations in the world for reporters -- has seen a spike in assassinations and kidnappings of foreigners.

“Obviously it was not a random abduction,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a news conference.

He said no ransom had been paid by Ottawa, the CBC or anyone else to free Fung, whom he spoke to after her release.

“She sounded in remarkably good spirits under the circumstances,” he said.

The CBC said it seemed likely the kidnappers were criminals rather than members of the Taliban.

Harper said hundreds of Canadian and Afghan officials had been involved in the effort to free Fung and that he called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to thank him.

Harper -- who declined to give many details about the kidnapping or Fung’s release -- also thanked media organizations for agreeing to a request from the CBC to respect a news blackout until the case had been resolved.

Fung had been on assignment in the southern city of Kandahar, where Canada has about 2,700 troops on a military mission due to end in 2011.

“(It) is an extremely dangerous country and that’s why we’re there, to try and lessen those dangers,” said Harper.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney

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